Have you ever seen a bluegrass band that includes cello? How about a French horn? If that concept catches your attention, you’ve got to check out the music of Al Scorch.
Al and his band played an afternoon gig last Sunday at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, a monthly winter series dubbed Al Scorch’s’ Winter Slumber. It’s free, it’s fun and if you’re in the area, highly recommended.
Scorch’s music is bluegrass at its core, but driven by the energy of punk and the courage to mess around and see what works. Scorch dubs his ensemble as “country soul,” and that works, too—these days it’s tough to classify music. The point is, there was a tone of soul and spirit driving the show we saw on Sunday.
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Another year, another Bluegrass Fest in San Francisco, this weekend (Oct-5-7) in Golden Gate Park. Old favorites are returning, including Nick Lowe (when did he get so damn popular all the sudden? It’s not like he’s moving a ton of records), T-Bone Burnett (one of the fest highlights last year), Del McCoury, Gillian Welch, Mekons, Knitters, on and on. PLUS some new blood, including Jeff Tweedy (solo on Friday afternoon), Charlie Louvin, Neko Case, and, believe it or not, John Mellencamp. There’s a reason they renamed the fest Hardly Strictly Bluegrass–which I have no beef with, as it opens the field to a wider range of roots/country/soul/grass type artists.
Here’s a few highlights from last year’s extravaganza:
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2006